Kruidnoten Arretje's Cake

The combination of kruidnoten and chocolate is a winning one - and one that has not gone unnoticed by the Sinterklaas-focused food industry. You can buy chocolate (milk, white and dark) covered kruidnoten, chocolate letters and bars with chunks of kruidnoten, chocolate cheesecake with kruidnoten, kruidnoten tiramisu, and even whole kruidnoten chocolate pies. I am waiting for the kruidnoten chocolate body wash - you know it won't be long now!

But, all craziness on a stick, the sweetness and creamy mouthfeel of a good chocolate does combine really well with the flavorful spices and crunchiness of the kruidnoot, which is why today's recipe is such a no-brainer. For one, it is easy to make, and secondly, there is no need to use the oven so you will not be getting in anybody's way. Yay on both counts!

Kruidnoten are a crunchy little cookie associated with the Sinterklaas period. Arretje's cake is a no-bake chocolate cake that was popularized in the Dutch kitchen because of its easy preparation. Follow the links for more information!

Kruidnoten Arretje's Cake

2 sticks butter (225 grms)
1 cup sugar (200 grms)
7 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (40 grms)
1/4 cup heavy cream (60 ml)
2 oz good quality dark chocolate(preferably 80% or higher), chopped into small chunks (56 grms)
About 2 cups kruidnoten (about 50 - recipe in the link)*

Melt the butter, sugar, cocoa, heavy cream and dark chocolate slowly in a sauce pan, until just melted, on low to medium heat. 

Make sure all the sugar has dissolved. If you rub a little bit of the mixture between your thumb and index finger and it feels gritty, the sugar has not yet dissolved.

Take the sauce pan from the stove and let it cool a bit. In the meantime, add the kruidnoten to a bag, or fold them into a clean towel, and roll your rolling pin over the cookies several times. You are looking to break the cookies into pieces. Not too big, not too small. I left them mainly whole for this cake and found it hard to get clean slices when cutting, so will definitely break them up next time. 

When the chocolate in the pan has cooled down, fold the cookies into the chocolate paste until they're all well covered. Line a cake pan with parchment paper or plastic film, spoon the mixture into the pan and flatten it with a spatula, making sure there are no air bubbles.

Cover and refrigerate for at least four hours, or overnight. Lift the cake out of the pan, and cut into thin slices. This cake is very rich, and pairs best with a cold glass of milk, or some unsweetened tea or coffee.

*If you don't have kruidnoten, or don't have time to bake them, think about using speculaas (windmill) cookies or even stroopwafels, gingersnaps or those Lotus Biscoff cookies. As long as it's a hard cookie, it'll work great!

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